In a prequel to history, a character named Cain schemed to lead his brother Abel out to the wheat field where he killed him in a jealous rage. He discovered, however, that violence did not solve his problem. Imagine that! In fact, getting rid of the person he thought was making him unhappy just multiplied his burden exponentially. His action even damaged the natural environment, making it impossible for him to grow a crop out of that ground.
Cain blamed it on God. “You’re too hard on me!” he said to God. “Now I am cut off from the face of the earth, I am cut off from your face, and I am cut off from the face of my fellow man. Everyone who sees me will kill me!” Every relationship that makes a person a whole person was broken. What a desperate, lonely, frightened lament of abandonment!
Yet God did not agree with Cain’s assessment of his condition. God stamped a warning on Cain: “Any who kill Cain will, themselves, suffer seven deaths.” Imagine that! Killing a killer making things seven times worse!
Still, even with God’s protective tattoo, Cain could not face God any longer. The Bible says he went out from the presence of God, and he built a city. The first city builder. Alienated from God. Alienated from his fellowman. Alienated from the earth, itself.
Alienated in a city full of people? Is that possible? We know the answer. In fact, we must ask, “Is that not the city of today?” Do we not see, in today’s city and, indeed, throughout the world, proof of the estrangement among human beings? We live in ever-closer proximity and are more readily connected by phone and social media than we could have dreamed a generation ago. Yet we are bitterly divided from each other, indifferent to the fate of our planet, and deaf to God. How can this be?